The Philanthorpy of Michigan’s Dick DeVos

I was browsing the Washington Business Journal when I happened across an interesting article about the Kennedy Center. A few years back the Kennedy Center set out to raise enough money through donations to make some major renovations. The Center passed its goal, but the donors were so generous that there was enough donated beyond the initial goal that the center decided to push on and raise enough to add some really nice features to the complex. 

Many of the donors made donations of one million and much more, and it only goes to show the love people have for the arts and their surrounding communities. The campaign which was initially set to raise $125 million raised over $139 million to cover the rising costs of the expenses. The entire project that is going to feature a footbridge, a river walk, pavilions and dining areas will bring new life to the center. 

Among those making the large donations were David Rubenstein and Dick DeVos. Rubenstein is the co-founder of the center, and he made a donation of $50,000,000 for the center’s restructure. I was curious about the donors, and looked them up on the internet. DeVos is the Michigan born son of the Amway founder. He is well known for his philanthropy as he shares the wealth he and his family have been fortunate enough to enjoy. His support at the Kennedy Center was in the amount of one million dollars.

I found his philanthropy is boundless, and goes far beyond just his support of the arts and the Kennedy Center. He and his wife Betsy created a foundation to manage their gifts and charities called the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation. It’s located in Grand Rapids, and the list of the groups and causes it supports is almost endless. The foundation donates heavily to education for children that range from scholarships at Princeton University to very large donations for Choices for Children. 

DeVos has established scholarships with the foundation he and his wife created. This scholarship fund not only supports American students, but also reaches out to students in developing countries. Mr. DeVos has a love of flying, and he opened the first public aviation high school in the world. It’s located at the Gerald Ford Airport and aviators from all over the country donate their time for the students. Check out the video below of Dick demonstrating a helicopter landing for students and members of his community of Grand Rapids.

Mr. DeVos other philanthropic passions include the environment, the arts and free market economics. He supports the Action Institute and the Heritage Foundation with donations and scholarship funding. He is also an avid supporter of the Dutch-American community and he even speaks internationally on occasion.

Learn more about the life and works of Dick DeVos by reading his bestselling book or by visiting his Wikipedia page below.


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